Palliative Care Program

The Palliative Care Program at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center is an innovative, outpatient-based service that offers an extra layer of support to patients and families from the point of diagnosis throughout the course of illness.

What is Palliative Care? A cancer diagnosis and its treatment can be overwhelming. Usually patients and family members have many questions and concerns. The World Health Organization defines palliative care as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

The Goals of Our Program

Our Palliative Care Program can help you deal with the physical and emotional distress caused by your cancer diagnosis and treatment. The less distress you have, the more energy you can direct toward recovery.

We help to:

  • Optimize your function by providing pain control and symptom management
  • Enhance the quality of life your life by meeting your physical, psychosocial, spiritual and practical needs
  • Make decisions by providing information regarding medical condition and treatment options
  • Provide opportunities for personal growth

Our Services

Comprehensive supportive care services require the expertise of an interdisciplinary team in order to adequately assess and treat the complex needs of cancer patients and their families.

Our Palliative Care Program includes professionals from medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, psychiatry, nutrition, shiatsu therapy, music therapy, art therapy, chaplaincy, and other professional disciplines. The team meets weekly to review cases, discuss options, and implement the plan of care for each patient.

Pain and Symptom Management

A pain and symptom management consultation includes a thorough assessment done by one of our pain experts followed by treatment recommendations that are discussed with your primary oncologist.

Professional Support Services

Social Work Assessment

Our social workers provide emotional support for patients and families through one on one counseling or support groups. They provide assistance with transportation, information on medical insurance, pharmaceutical benefit programs, and legal issues, among others.

Nutritional Counseling

A nutritionist will help develop an individualized nutrition plan and provides information on all aspects of nutrition.

Psychological Services

Psychological support to patients and families is provided through individual and family sessions, relaxation training, hypnosis, couples therapy and group psychotherapy.

Spiritual Counseling

We provide spiritual care to patients and families working with the patient’s faith community, if appropriate.

Integrative Therapies

Shiatsu Therapy

Shiatsu therapy is based on traditional Chinese medicine that focuses on treating the patient’s bio-energetic system with finger and hand pressure to the body’s energy channels. Shiatsu enhances the ability of the body, mind, and spirit to care for itself.

Art Therapy

Art therapy provides emotional support to patients and families using art media, images, and the creative art process.

Support Groups for Patients and Caregivers

Led by trained professionals, our support groups offer patients and families emotional support, education, and a chance to meet others with similar issues. A cancer diagnosis and its treatment can be overwhelming. Usually patients and family members have many questions and concerns about the disease and the treatment.